An Extraordinary Day for US-Israel Relations

(NJDC) President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting today to discuss a wide range of issues impacting the U.S-Israel relationship. The two characterized the meeting as “excellent” and used the opportunity to re-affirm the special relationship between the United States and Israel.
On Preventing a Nuclear-Armed Iran:

“… I very much appreciate the President’s statement that he is determined to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

That has been translated by the President through his leadership at the Security Council, which passed sanctions against Iran; by the U.S. bill that the President signed just a few days ago.  And I urge other leaders to follow the President’s lead….”

          -Prime Minister Netanyahu

“I think the latest sanctions adopted by the U.N. create illegitimacy or create de-legitimization for Iran’s nuclear program … I think the sanctions the President signed the other day actually have teeth. They bite.”

           -Prime Minister Netanyahu

“We discussed the issue of Iran, and we pointed out that as a consequence of some hard work internationally, we have instituted through the U.N. Security Council the toughest sanctions ever directed at an Iranian government.  In addition, last week I signed our own set of sanctions, coming out of the United States Congress, as robust as any that we’ve ever seen.  Other countries are following suit.  And so we intend to continue to put pressure on Iran to meet its international obligations and to cease the kinds of provocative behavior that has made it a threat to its neighbors and the international community.”

           – President Obama

On the Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process:

“I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace. I think he’s willing to take risks for peace.  And during our conversation, he once again reaffirmed his willingness to engage in serious negotiations with the Palestinians around what I think should be the goal … [of] two states living side by side in peace and security.

Israel’s security needs met, the Palestinians having a sovereign state that they call their own – those are goals that have obviously escaped our grasp for decades now.  But now more than ever I think is the time for us to seize on that vision.  And I think that Prime Minister Netanyahu is prepared to do so.  … I believe that the government of Israel is prepared to engage in … direct talks, and I commend the Prime Minister for that.”

           -President Obama

“… We discussed a great deal about activating, moving forward the quest for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.  We’re committed to that peace.  I’m committed to that peace.  And this peace I think will better the lives of Israelis, of Palestinians, and it certainly would change our region. … I think with the help of President Obama, President Abbas and myself should engage in direct talks to reach a political settlement of peace, coupled with security and prosperity.”

           -Prime Minister Netanyahu

On Palestinian Incitement:

“I think it’s very important that the Palestinians not look for excuses for incitement, that they are not engaging in provocative language; that at the international level, they are maintaining a constructive tone, as opposed to looking for opportunities to embarrass Israel.”

           -President Obama

On the State of Relations between the United States and Israel:

“The reports about the demise of the special relationship aren’t just premature, they’re just flat wrong. There’s a depth and richness of this relationship that is expressed every day.  Our teams talk.  We don’t make it public.  The only thing that’s public is that you can have differences on occasion in the best of families and the closest of families….

… The President said it best in his speech in Cairo.  He said in front of the entire Islamic world, he said, the bond between Israel and the United States is unbreakable.  And I can affirm that to you today.”

            -Prime Minister Netanyahu

“I think that [Prime Minister Netanyahu] is dealing with a very complex situation in a very tough neighborhood.  And what I have consistently shared with him is my interest in working with him-not at cross-purposes-so that we can achieve the kind of peace that will ensure Israel’s security for decades to come.”

           -President Obama

“As Prime Minister Netanyahu indicated in his speech, the bond between the United States and Israel is unbreakable.  It encompasses our national security interests, our strategic interests, but most importantly, the bond of two democracies who share a common set of values and whose people have grown closer and closer as time goes on.”

           – President Obama

“If you look at every public statement that I’ve made over the last year and a half, it has been a constant reaffirmation of the special relationship between the United States and Israel, that our commitment to Israel’s security has been unwavering.  And, in fact, there aren’t any concrete policies that you could point to that would contradict that.

And in terms of my relationship with Prime Minister Netanyahu, I know the press, both in Israel and stateside, enjoys seeing if there’s news there.  But the fact of the matter is that I’ve trusted Prime Minister Netanyahu since I met him before I was elected President, and have said so both publicly and privately.”

           -President Obama

On the United States’ Policy Towards Nuclear Proliferation Issues and Israel:

“…We discussed issues that arose out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference. … There is no change in U.S. policy when it comes to these issues.  We strongly believe that, given its size, its history, the region that it’s in, and the threats that are leveled against us-against it, that Israel has unique security requirements.  It’s got to be able to respond to threats or any combination of threats in the region.  And that’s why we remain unwavering in our commitment to Israel’s security.  And the United States will never ask Israel to take any steps that would undermine their security interests.”

           -President Obama

“… Mr. President-I want to thank you for reaffirming to me in private and now in public as you did the longstanding U.S. commitments to Israel on matters of vital strategic importance.”

            -Prime Minister Netanyahu

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